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Area agencies awarded mental health grants

LEECH LAKE—A regional mental health cooperative and White Earth Nation's mental health program will have a few hundred thousand dollars more to spend this year and next.

Staff at the Minnesota Department of Human Services announced Thursday more than $2 million in mental health service grants over the next 18 months to two years. A total of $260,000 is intended for the Adult Mental Health Initiative Region V, a cooperative that includes Cass County and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. Another $280,000 is set aside for the White Earth Mental Health Program.

At Region V, that money is set to pay for a pair of "transition specialists" who will work to help re-acclimate people after they've been committed. That means helping them find housing or a group home, making sure they're set up with outpatient therapy or psychiatric care, or even driving them up from a hospital in the Metro area, among other services.

Some people can get "stuck" after they're committed, explained Tami Lueck, a Region V member and Crow Wing County's division manager for adult services. They're caught in a sort-of limbo where they're well enough to be released but don't have a safe or appropriate place to live afterward.

"So that leads to people being in the hospital when they really don't need to be there," she explained. Hiring transition specialists aims to address that problem.

In White Earth, that state money will pay for some "holistic health practitioners" to support people's physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs as they recover from mental illness, according to human services staff.

Joe Bowen

Joe Bowen covers education (mostly K-12) and American Indian affairs for the Bemidji Pioneer.

He's from Minneapolis, earned a degree from the College of St. Benedict - St. John's University in 2009, and worked at the Perham Focus near Detroit Lakes and Sun Newspapers in suburban Minneapolis before heading to the Pioneer.

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